Ethical qualities in consumption: Towards a theory of care

Deirdre Shaw, Robert McMaster, Cristina Longo, Nil Özçaglar-Toulouse (2017). Published in Marketing Theory.

This article seeks to develop an empirically grounded theorization of care. Current care theory tends to be conceived along philosophical, psychological and labour dimensions, with much of the literature focusing on caring labour and, therefore, invoking a productionist orientation.

By contrast, our focus on consumption suggests a reorientation in conceptualizing care to more fully apprehend the nuances of care neglected in a consumption context. We draw from Tronto’s phases of care in arguing that caregiving is not necessarily only an activity involving one’s labour. Through interviews, we examine how and what we consume manifests care and caring. We theorize care in consumption as a circular and dynamic process involving the combination of awareness, responsibility and action.

This enhanced understanding of care could facilitate improved market exchanges and relationships between different stakeholders.